Bipartisan support can be hard to come by in modern politics. Not for legalizing marijuana in Rhode Island though, which activists say enjoys “tripartisan support.”
Regulate RI says Democratic, Republican and Libertarian party leaders will all speak today (3pm) at the State House rotunda to call on the legislature to make Rhode Island the third state in the nation to legalize marijuana.
The Republican in the group is Providence mayoral candidate Dan Harrop, who is also chairman of the divisive right wing think tank RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity. Their policy director, Justin Katz, is opposed. Like marriage equality, legalizing marijuana enjoys more popularity among the Republicans than with Democratic leadership. House Minority Leader Brian Newberry is a co-sponsor of the so-called tax and regulate bill.
The Libertarians include Mike Rollins, chairman of the local Libertarian Party and Richard Ford, chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. Democrats include from Edith Ajello, the progressive East Side state representative who sponsored the bill, Pat Smith, a Barrington resident who is very active with the RI Progressive Democrats, and Kristina Fox, former president of the Young Democrats of RI who now works for Providence mayoral hopeful Jorge Elorza. Click here to listen to more Democrats (Gov Chafee, Rep Frank Ferri and Senator Josh Miller) talk about legalization.
A recent analysis shows legalization would mean between $20 and $80 million in additional revenue for Rhode Island and the Providence NAACP, and other social justice advocates, support legalization because pot prohibition has unfairly targeted poor and minority communities. A poll found legalization is popular with the average Rhode Islander too, with 53 percent in support. But pundits believe there is little political will to take up the legislation this session because it’s an election year.